November 7, 2021

Is The DJI Mavic 3 Worth It?

The Wait Is Over: Here's the New DJI Mavic 3

But is the DJI Mavic 3 Worth It? Is it worth $4,999 of your hard-earned cash? Will it do what other drones cannot? Will you see a difference in quality? Let's hope so. Read on...

"I was all ready to buy it immediately on release. The money was there, I was there, I had waited a year for this. So did I buy it? check out the video below".

Click to play

So do I think the Mavic 3 is worth it? Yes and no.

If you watched the video above, you will have seen there are a few "teething problems" with the new DJI Mavic 3. This applies to both the standard version and the more pro version, the DJI Mavic 3 Cine. But let's try and keep this short and sweet. I will start with the good.

DJI Mavic 3 Good Points

Apple ProRes 422 HQ

Ok, so the overriding factor that makes this drone a cut above the rest of the Mavic line-up is Pro Res. Developed by Apple, ProRes is a high quality, lossy video compression format created for use in post-production. Pro res supports video resolution up to 8K and the file sizes are HUGE!

Pro Res File Sizes

Even though I haven't actually flown this drone yet, I have managed to get hold of some Pro Res files. Just FYI, a 50 second Pro Res clip totals 8.7GB! You need to get on Amazon and buy some large, fast external hard drives.

Now I can't show you the clips as they are not mine but I can show you some screen grabs from both the unedited, four thirds Pro Res file and the edited version.

Please note that the images below have been reduced for web. There is no way around this but trust me when I say that the full resolution video is stunningly sharp. I am impressed. The edited video has simply had a LUT (look up table) applied.

Screen Grab from Unedited Pro Res Video File

Screen Grab from Edited Pro Res Video File

Low Light Video @ ISO 800

I'm not sure if this is legit or not but by looking at his channel, I think it probably is. The video below shows the low light, unedited h.264 footage from the DJI Mavic 3. To me it looks pretty clean but I have heard that after ISO 1600, things get a bit rough. 

Of course, we don't know if these reviewers have added some Neat Video noise reduction to their videos either.

Still, if you can shoot ISO 800 at night and produce clean clips like this, I think that's pretty good. Check out the short video below.

Click to play

Stability

Like all DJI drones, this thing holds like a rock. Even my DJI Mini 2 can hold it's own in 25mph+ winds. Amazing and no issues here. The Mavic 3 will be like a tripod on a dolly in the sky.

Obstacle Avoidance

Good to see the Mavic/Prosumer line up of DJI drones getting full 360­° sensors. This is a huge benefit especially if you plan to follow yourself on a bike through the woods or whilst skiing off-piste. Love it and by all accounts, it looks to work incredibly well.

H.264/5 D-LOG in 10-bit

It was pretty much a given but I am glad to see that the "lesser" Mavic 3 (without Pro Res) will film D-LOG at 10 bit. But why does this matter?

First of all, D-LOG captures a much "flatter" image with regards to saturation and contrast. This allows the producer to edit more and introduce their own style. It also makes it easier to match LOG footage to LOG footage from other cameras.

Even though it is only 2 numbers more, the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit is massive. 

8-bit

8 Bit Colours

Levels Per Channel

256

Display Colours

16.7 Million

10-bit

10 Bit Colours

Levels Per Channel

1024

Display Colours

1.07 Billion

So 16.7 million colours available for post production vs 1.07 Billion! That's a huge difference and allows for much more editing before the image degrades. This is particularly noticeable when editing skies. You sometimes see this ugly "banding" in the blues that is caused by over-pushing 8-bit.

12-Bit DNG RAW Images

Expanding on the data above, when you get to 12-bit, you enter the dizzy heights of 68,719,476,736 colours! That's 68 billion colours.

So not only do you have the flatter LOG files to work with, you also have all those extra colours. The processed 12-bit RAW images from the DJI Mavic 3 should be sublime and I look forward to testing the drone out soon.

However, from looking at the images I have downloaded from Mavic 3 owners so far, I am a little concerned. It appears that on quite a few images, the edge quality suffers a little compared to the central portions.

100% Crop of Unedited Image - Central Portion

100 percent crop of center 20mp DJI Mavic 3 photo

100% Crop of The Same But Unedited Image - Edge

100 percent crop of edge 20mp Mavic 3 photo

Just being honest here but I would need to see more images and hopefully take some of my own before buying. The stills photography with this drone plays a large part of why I would buy it. Right now, I'm not convinced.

Even though I am not overly impressed with the stills (at the moment), I am keeping them in the "good" section as I have hope. All too often I have seen shabby reviews and relied on third parties (often not even photographers) to provide real world examples.

Still, doesn't it look lovely...

DJI Mavic 3 Hasselblad L2D-20c Camera

DJI Mavic 3 Bad Points

Right, these are the reasons I didn't buy the DJI Mavic 3 on release. As I have said in the video above, I was all ready, money in hand, to buy this. I was as excited as everybody else but something held me back.

Most of these issues are more than likely going to be addressed in future firmware updates. Some of them may not bother you or sway you either way. However, for me, I don't want to pay these high prices if I have these things niggling inside my head.

The Price

Personally I think for what you get, the price is a little high but this is contentious. Some may find the price good for what they need. Maybe the "higher than expected" price is due to the state of the world and chip shortages.

Maybe it's DJI getting greedy because they knew only too well how popular this would be. I hope not.

Whatever the reason, there are actually some good alternatives out there right now with maybe some better choices coming soon. More in a bit.  

UK and USA Prices

DJI Mavic 3

Just the basics but the drone is as Fly More


£

1879

  • DJI Mavic 3
  • DJI RC-N1 Remote
  • 1 x Flight Battery
  • Storage Cover
  • Some Bits
Cine

Pro Res, 1TB internal HDD and 4 extra filters


£

4279

  • DJI Mavic 3
  • DJI RC-N1 Remote
  • 3 x Flight Battery
  • Storage Cover
  • 8 ND Filters
  • Pro Res License
  • 1TB Internal HDD
  • Bag and Some Bits
DJI Mavic 3

Just the basics but the drone is as Fly More


$

2199

  • DJI Mavic 3
  • DJI RC-N1 Remote
  • 1 x Flight Battery
  • Storage Cover
  • Some Bits
Cine

Pro Res, 1TB internal HDD and 4 extra filters


$

4999

  • DJI Mavic 3
  • DJI RC-N1 Remote
  • 3 x Flight Battery
  • Storage Cover
  • 8 ND Filters
  • Pro Res License
  • 1TB Internal HDD
  • Bag and Some Bits
  • 8 ND Filters

That's a big chunk 'o change and only you can decide if it is worth it or not. If you shoot a lot of high end work and need this as a second camera, then yes. It is worth it. However, if you are shooting regular high end projects then I think it is worth splashing out a bit more for the DJI Inspire 2 and X5s or X7 camera.

If, like me, you shoot a fair bit of commercial work such as:

  • Promotional videos for local clients
  • The occasional music video
  • Stock video
  • Roof inspections
  • Land surveys

Then perhaps the Fly More Combo is a better choice. Look at it this way, you would save £1,730 and should the need for Pro Res arise, you could hire the DJI Mavic 3 Cine model for around £170 for a week and charge that to your client.

If you are more of a hobbyist or only use drones occasionally (e.g. for weddings as an add on for ground video), maybe opt for the basic package and grab a battery or two later down the line.

D-LOG Colour Bleed

DJI Mavic 3 Colour Bleed in H264 H265

To be fair, I have only seen a couple of instances of this as in the image above. No one other than Mr Potato Jet has noticed it but it could be an issue. It only seems to happen when filming at speed using h.264/265 but the colours can bleed into the background in some situations. 

Flight Time

This is a much bigger issue as far as I am concerned. If true, and if it doesn't get addressed or "debunked", I will not be buying this drone.

DJI proudly pushed a 46 minute flight time for the Mavic 3 drone but according to a few reviewers, this is not so. Not even close. Parker Walbeck did a superb review and his testing showed that flying:

  • Outdoors alternating between cine and sports mode = 25 minutes
DJI Mavic 3 Flight Time Issue 1
  • Indoors and simply hovering = 35 minutes
DJI Mavic 3 Flight Time Issue 2

I also watched another reviewer film his very first flight and gushed about the visible 39 minutes remaining after take off. In the end, on a reasonable flying day, he got just 19 minutes of flight time all recorded as it happened.

That's enough for me to pay attention. I am about to rent one to see for myself because that is not good at all. My Mini 2 does better than that!

Noise at High ISO and Low Light

I won't go too much into detail here because it could be down to user error. However, Parker mentioned above, did a quick test to see whether the Mavic 3 was better than the Mavic 2 at ISO 1600 in low light.

This is what he found (click or tap screen for larger version):

Second Camera

Another huge disappointment with a feature that was heavily touted by DJI is the second camera. This promised to give us a superb 7x (162mm) lens that would allow that cool parallax effect when filming.

It would also be great for roof inspections or other commercial work where you couldn't get too close to the building or subject.

However! In reality, the camera is pretty much a dud as far as I can see. I have downloaded footage and images from this camera and they are bad. These are the reasons:

  1. 1
    When zooming, the camera noticeably switches from camera 1 to camera 2 half way through making the clip unusable
  2. 2
    Once you zoom past 7x (28x available) the image becomes terribly mushy and blurred
  3. 3
    You can only film at 4k 30p in this mode
  4. 4
    Filming is only in auto with no manual control
  5. 5
    Stills photos are only in JPEG and not RAW and in full auto

If I were to buy this drone, I really can't see any situation where I would use it. I would rather crop in from a 20mp still or from the 5.1k footage when outputting to 1080p. 

Unfinished Business

The drone community waited 3 years and longed for the DJI Mavic 3...and with good reason. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro was outstanding and truly ground-breaking when released. We all expected the Mavic 3 to have the same WOW factor. 

For many it did as the Pro Res video is stunning. 

But. The Mavic 3 was released with a ton of features missing. Features that would be added with firmware updates in January 2022 at the earliest. WTH?

After three years and a ton of feedback from potential customers, releasing a product that is not "market ready" is a poor show. Here's what is missing:

  1. 1
    4K 120p not available yet
  2. 2
    ActiveTrack 5.0 subject-tracking
  3. 3
    MasterShots (its range of automated flight modes)
  4. 4
    Wi-Fi QuickTransfer

Perhaps these are not deal-breakers for many as most will buy it for the video and stills. I personally would have been hugely disappointed at the lack of 4K 120p because this is another welcome feature of the DJI Mavic 3.

So Is The DJI Mavic 3 Worth It?

Yes

  • Stable, fast and reliable 
  • 5.1k 50fps, 4K 120fps
  • Pro Res in Cine Version
  • 12-bit 20mp RAW Stills
  • Large 4/3 Sensor
  • Hasselblad Camera
  • 360° Obstacle Avoidance
  • New Smart Controller

No

  • Price a little steep
  • Possible colour bleed
  • Flight time needs checking
  • Noise at 1600+ ISO
  • Second camera a bit lame
  • Firmware delays

DJI Mavic 3 Summary

As you may have noticed, I am a little disappointed. Since my DJI Inspire 1 passed away unexpectedly last December, I have been waiting nearly a year for this. I wanted it to be perfect. 

When there is 18 month old but still superb tech out there like the Autel Evo II still relevant. Whilst Autel also have some very exciting new drones coming out soon to compete with the DJI Mavic 3. And when other, newer companies such as XDynamics with their beautiful Evolve 2 drone are waiting in the wings, I am put off from buying the Mavic 3 Cine right now. 

Hopefully I will be proven wrong on these issues or the 2022 firmware updates will address them but for now, I am holding fire. I am 90% sure I will buy this at some point so fingers crossed.

I have to admit, my finger is hovering over the DJI Air 2s buy button right now. This will "fill the gap" until I know what to do.

What do you think? Did you buy the DJI Mavic 3?

Please leave your comments below. Good or bad. Thanks : )

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Tags

dji, dji mavic 3, mavic cine


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